Clarke focused on Sri Lanka

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Michael Clarke

Michael Clarke, who will lead Australia tomorrow, believes the hosts must gain 'momemtum' ahead of the Ashes series

Michael Clarke insists Australia will not be distracted by the upcoming Ashes as they prepare to face Sri Lanka in three one-day internationals.

The hosts are keen to silence their critics after their recent disappointing tour of India, but a seven-wicket loss to Sri Lanka in Sunday's Twenty20 international hardly helped their cause.

With a highly-anticipated series against England fast approaching, Australia could be forgiven for not taking the one-dayers - starting in Melbourne tomorrow - as seriously as they might.

But Clarke, who will lead Australia at the MCG while regular one-day skipper Ricky Ponting attends his grandmother’s funeral, insists that is not the case.

“It is important that we play good cricket and win these games against Sri Lanka to build momentum into the Test series against England,” Clarke said.

“Everybody is looking forward to the Ashes, but I was 100% focused, as the team were, on the T20 and now we are focused on Wednesday's game against Sri Lanka. We can't afford to be looking too far ahead now.

“We are not getting the results we would like in all three forms and we need to get better.”

Ponting believes Australia are ready to arrest a five-game losing streak in all forms stretching back to July.

The last time they won was the first MCC Spirit of Cricket Test against Pakistan at Lord’s in July and Ponting admits there is a lot of work to do to turn their fortunes around before the Ashes.

Much has been made of Australia's barren run, but Ponting thinks there is more to it than that.

"If you look at it that way (dating back to July) then it seems like a long time, but it's only a few games really," he said.

"And, to be fair, we've played well in each one of those games to the point where we probably should have won that first Test match in India, we didn't (India won by one wicket).

"We were very competitive in the second Test match in India without getting across the line as well. There's no sugar coating anything - we know we've got some work to do and we know we haven't played one-day cricket for a little while.

"We want to turn around our fortunes and I think it's really important to start getting that winning feeling back again."

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